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Zinc’s Role in the Immune System

Over the past year there has been lots of interest around nutrition and the immune system. Zinc is an essential mineral, and although it is required only in small amounts, it is vital to our health. Amongst a variety of roles, zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system*.

The best sources of zinc are found in red meat, the dark meat on poultry, crab, nuts, beans, fortified cereals and dairy products.

Populations who are most at risk from zinc deficiency include those with poor nutritional intake, such as the over 65’s, people who are unwell in hospital for a long time, or those who have difficulty absorbing zinc via the digestive system for some reason.

Zinc deficiency has a major impact on our bone marrow, decreasing the number immune precursor cells which then reduces output of a type of white blood cell called B lymphocytes. B lymphocytes make valuable antibodies. It also causes thymic atrophy which is the reduction in size of the thymus gland. This then reduces the amount of T lymphocytes, another type of white blood cell which play a role in controlling immune response to kill dangerous cells.

Zinc deficiency impairs many other aspects of immunity, including reducing white blood cells called phagocytes, which scavenge foreign particles such as bacteria or dust, and eat them up!

There are a number of studies which have been undertaken in people who are suffering from colds and pneumonia, whether they have proven decreased levels of zinc or not. A huge 24 randomised clinical controlled trials showed that taking a zinc supplement during a cold reduces cold duration and symptoms.

Zinc, when given as an adjunct to the treatment of severe pneumonia was also shown to be effective in reducing death rates in 5 randomised controlled trials.

When zinc was used for preventative purposes in an elderly population, 45g of elemental zinc a day reduced the total amount of infections over a 12 month period. Altruvita Max Strength Zinc provides 25mg elemental zinc in each tablet. Unlike some other forms, zinc gluconate is well absorbed by the body. A 2 month supply costs only 13p a day when you buy a single tub, or just 10p a day if you buy a 12 month subscription.

* EU REGISTERS ON NUTRITION AND HEALTH CLAIMS

Altruvita Max Strength Zinc provides 25mg elemental zinc in each tablet. Unlike some other forms, zinc gluconate is well absorbed by the body. A 2 month supply costs only 13p a day when you buy a single tub, or just 10p a day if you buy a 12 month subscription.

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